Tribeca Film Fest: Surf's Up

We're obviously always up for new experiences. Most of this site talks about going places or trying new outdoor activities but recently, we decided to give the Tribeca Film Festival a go. I've actually wanted to go since I was in college but never really made the effort to get tickets and navigate the city to get there and wait in line. Well this year, there were a couple of films we couldn't miss the chance to see.

Chris Burkard stands at the top of lists for photographers who best capture outdoor adventures. His photos of Iceland are what initially caught our attention but his surf photography combined with amazing landscapes were what really drew my own personal interests. And this year his film, Under an Arctic Sky, was at Tribeca. It was part of double feature that the festival called "Surf's Up" and was paired with a short called Resurface.

I am not a movie reviewer. So if the format of my thoughts here seem like I am talking about a newly tested piece of snowboard gear, you have my apologies in advance. 

Under an Arctic Sky

The visuals in this film are stunning. Obviously, if you take an exotic location like Iceland and couple it with Chris' artistic eye, you're going to have magic. The film also does a good job at showing the spirit of cold water surfing and really highlights some of the misadventures that happen along the way. With an Icelandic score, the music rounds out the overall feeling of a viking surf film. 

The downside of this film for me was that it didn't really put in to perspective how difficult a trip like this is to execute in reality. One would guess that surfing is only for the super rich and it doesn't give the viewer a good grasp at the roots of the sport. It doesn't build the "stoke" that so many of us get when we even think about surfing. There is also very little character depth. It would've been nice to know why some of the non-Icelanders wanted to embark on the journey and how the natives have come into the sport despite it being limited in popularity in the country. 

Overall, the movie is all about the visuals and it doesn't fail to bring some of the most epic shots I've ever seen in a surf movie. Maybe it's because Iceland holds a special part of my heart, but seeing years of tropical surf films doesn't compare to watching the cold water champions do there thing in front of a northern lights background. I'd categorize the movie more as an excellent travel brochure for Iceland than as a stand-alone surf film. 

If you want to check this out for yourself, they are currently touring the country screening the film. Get the info on dates here.


Moving onto Resurface; this short stole the show! That is NOT a put down to UAAS. This movie just has "it" in terms of showing what surfing can do for the soul. This is a film about one man's efforts to use surfing to rehabilitate war veterans. 

Again, I'll start with the good. This film really has emotional depth. That's not a hard thing to capture when you hear of disabled veterans and their road to recovery. This film dives deep into PTSD and the natural healing that can help it. Surfing is an unbelievable tool to help and the film captures the feeling of why so many of us find in surfing in the first place. They really capture the side of surfing that exists in the water and not in surf shops or on TV or tournaments. It is the "stoke" in this film that caused me to relate so much to it. 

Where this film falls a little short (some pun intended), is it's not long enough to give a lot of depth with some of the main characters. Don't get me wrong, there are a few stories you get glimpses of but not as much as you'd like. Only due to a Q&A after the screening did we find out that was due to many of the veterans being very camera shy or timid about their story. Totally understandable. 

If you want to check out Resurface, keep an eye on this news page for updates.

All of that being said, Tribeca definitely did things right by pairing the two films together. I'm not sure either one would've been as enjoyable without the other since they are so different and have different messages. It was definitely an amazing experience and I'd go again for movies that I was excited about. I'm not too sure about a whole day viewing experience though. That'd be better saved for my friends over at the Snarky Reviewer.